It’s GAME ONE, folks. The day we’ve been waiting for and, frankly, didn’t expect to see during those sad days of November, when the Caps started the month 1-8-1 and their coach was getting fired.
Tonight, the Caps host the Flyers in the conference quarterfinal opener, and in the words of some, “this will be one of the bloodiest series.” The Flyers are expected to bring their “A” game as it pertains to chippy, nasty, push-the-rules-off-the-table hockey. So, we decided we’d call in some of the legendary heavyweights to get their take…
…no, not hockey heavyweights. Real heavyweights…George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson. Gentlemen, welcome. George, first to you. What do you make of all this talk about the Flyers making this a fight-filled affair?
Do you think the players will police themselves, or can we expect the striped shirts to play a big role?
“The referee is going to be the most important person in the ring tonight besides the fighters…uh, players.”
What advice would you have for the Caps as they skate out tonight?
“Put your name on something – like that jersey – it better be the best... you only get one shot.”
Muhammad Ali…you are generally thought of as the most complete fighter in the history of the sport, one who could intimidate by reputation alone. If you’re one of the Caps, what sort of impression do you want to leave with your opponent?
And if any of the Flyers decide to take any liberties?
“You gotta say, ‘I'll beat him so bad he'll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.’”
Champ, about Alex Ovechkin…this is his first playoff appearance. Is there anything you remember from your first pro fight that might apply to Ovechkin as he makes his debut, anything he might be thinking?
"I'm the best. I just haven't played yet."
That’s quite a claim…
"It's not bragging if you can back it up."
Mike…at the top of your career, you were the most feared man on the planet. What sort of attitude did you bring to the ring, that the Caps might bring to the ice tonight?
The Flyers are starting a goalie – Martin Biron – who has never played in an NHL playoff game. He says that, "I feel like I was able to achieve something I had set out to do when I came here to Philly, to be able to play the majority of the games in the season and get to the playoffs and make the difference in some games."
“Everybody's got plans...until they get hit.”
But isn’t there a bit of fear – fear of the unknown of how you’ll respond to a situation like the playoffs against a rugged team?
“Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. It's like fire. If you can control it, it can cook for you; it can heat your house. If you can't control it, it will burn everything around you and destroy you. If you can control your fear, it makes you more alert, like a deer coming across the lawn…or Daniel Briere.”
Mike, Caps fans have been laying into Briere in the run up to this series, that he’s…well, a bit soft. Any thoughts?
“I don't understand why people would want to get rid of pigeons. They don't bother no one.”
I see your point…
Caps 4 – Flyers 3